Thursday, December 16, 2010

Why Oracle doesn't work...

Q: What's worse than when you press 'POST' and everything crashes?

A: When you reset your system and find out that during the twelve minutes you spent writing your recent blog entry, none of the site's automatic back-up functions worked, and the entire effort was wasted.

It sucks.

Now back to our regularly scheduled commentary about Oracle...

Barbara Gordon was always destined for greatness. As a youngster she joined the crime-fighting duo of Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne under the guise of Batgirl. Others have taken up that mantle since, but she was the original, and it came to a shattering end during The Killing Joke when Barbara was paralyzed (and sexually assaulted) by The Joker.

Other people would have been broken by this.

Barbara found a new way to serve her purpose in the world, becoming the foremost technology expert in the super-human community. She combined exemplary data analysis skills with highly developed information search skills and world class hacking to take on the identity of Oracle.

As the often mysterious Oracle Barbara has worked with and for The Suicide Squad, The Justice League, Batman (and family) and ultimately The Birds of Prey. Her network of connections is as impressive as anyone else in the DCU......which is where my problem begins.

Too often I find myself reading Birds of Prey (a series I recommend in spite of this objection) and marveling at how casually the writers ignore the power of being the super hero community's information super-highway. With connections like she has, there is absolutely no excuse for Barbara to be dispatching Lady BlackHawk into a crisis that endangers somebody's life without first attempting to contact a member of the "Big 7."

Martian Manhunter
Green Lantern

....and for those of you who will argue that calling for the help of a 'man' in some way undermines the purpose of Birds of Prey and diminishes the book....


Don't get me wrong. A series in which she routinely calls in the most powerful women in the DCU would be much more difficult to swallow, and would often serve to undermine the chemistry of the series, so I'm not suggesting that it needs to happen. What I am suggesting is that continuing to disregard her connections and ability to bring the most powerful people in the world into play undermines her credibility as a character. If I don't acknowledge that she has that at her disposal at least occasionally, then I start to wonder if her role as the information resource to that community even matters.

At that point....I wonder if Oracle even matters.

Did you know that there are strongly dissenting opinions on Oracle's worth and value as a character? Read her Wiki entry to get your head around the arguments. I can tell you that I stand firmly in the camp which believes that Babs serves the righteous much more crucially as Oracle than she ever could as Batgirl. BUT.....and this is the point I'm trying to order for that to remain true, you have to underscore her resourcefulness and connections more effectively than the writers have been doing.

If information is power......she should be Superman.

These days she seems a lot more like Plastic Man.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Dayummm! I can't believe you threw Plastic Man under the bus like that! Plas rawks!